The Prince Questions and Answers
by Niccolo Machiavelli

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What are the qualities of the ideal prince according to Machiavelli?  

The qualities of the ideal prince according to Machiavelli include ruthlessness when necessary, the ability to inspire respect, military expertise, and a willingness to set virtue aside.

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For the prince to maintain power, it is important that he act ruthlessly if necessary. Contrary to popular belief, Machiavelli is not endorsing blood-soaked tyranny. He's simply saying that, under certain circumstances, a prince needs to do whatever it takes to remain in control—not just for his own good but for the good of his realm.

Among other things, this means that a prince cannot draw upon the values of Christian morality in discharging his responsibilities as ruler. Machiavelli certainly thinks that there's a place for Christianity, but not when it comes to statecraft.

What has made Machiavelli so controversial down the centuries is his steadfast refusal to pay lip-service to religious teachings in formulating his political ideas. As far as he's concerned, the business of getting and maintaining power is a purely secular matter, whether it concerns the power of princes or prelates. In practical terms, this means that it will often be necessary to resort to cruel and underhand...

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